Flight attendants are the face of the airlines of which they work for. Flight attendants are responsible for making sure that all passengers on board the plane are comfortable during the duration of the flight. They distribute beverages, snacks, meals and any other customer requests to the best of his or her ability. In addition, flight attendants are responsible for demonstrating and maintaining all safety regulations in the air, including demonstrating safety features of the airplane as well as acting as safety directors in case of an emergency. As passengers board the plane, flight attendants greet them, assist with finding seats and also help storing carry on bags in the overhead compartment. During the duration of the flight, flight attendants serve to make sure that all safety regulations are met while the aircraft is in flight.
The median annual salary of a flight attendant ranges between $32,000 and $35,000 annually including benefits. Pay scales vary by carrier, and also depend on additional factors such as incentive pay for working holidays, nights or on international flights. Benefits include medical, dental, life insurance, 401k or retirement pension, in addition to paid time off and stock options where applicable. Most flight attendants will belong to a labor union associated with their airline.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Flight attendants are primarily responsible for overseeing all safety regulations are met on board the cabin while the aircraft is in flight. Prior to takeoff, the flight attendant staff is usually briefed by the captain on safety regulations, and other pertinent information prior to takeoff. During the flight, flight attendants duties include distributing beverages, snacks, meals and meeting passenger requests as best as possible. Flight attendants are usually required to stand for a majority of the flight.
Work schedules can include holidays and weekends, as airlines operate 24/7. Scheduled on duty time is normally limited to 12 hours a day, unless assigned to an international flight. The FAA requires flight attendants receive at least 9 hours of interrupted rest before boarding their next flight. New flight attendants may be put onto reserve status or on call duty during their first several weeks of employment.
Flight attendants are required to wear a uniform associated with his or her respective airline carrier and are required to maintain a well groomed and proper appearance at all times. Flight attendants should have experience dealing with the public or have extensive face to face customer service experience. In addition they are required to conduct cabin checks every 15-30 minutes to ensure passenger safety and that FAA in flight safety regulations are met. In the event of an emergency, flight attendants become the safety directors, giving directions to passengers to ensure the safety of everyone on board.
Benefits for flight attendants include the ability to travel to unique and interesting places. Also many airlines offer discounted rates for flight attendants and their respective families to fly to any destination the airline also flies to.
Employment for flight attendants is expected to grow as much as average over the course of the next few years. Competition for flight attendant jobs is competitive because of the good benefits and opportunities to travel. Opportunities will improve as the the airline industry expands.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Most airlines require at least a high school diploma and that the prospective candidate be at least 21 years of age. However, there is a growing number of airlines which now require at least a 2-year degree or higher.
Flight attendants should have significant experience with public interfacing. Candidates working for a foreign airlines may be required to speak a foreign language. In most cases, candidates must have vision correctable to 20/30. Employment with an airlines as a flight attendant is also contingent upon successful completion of a background check.
While there is no formal height requirement set, prospective candidates must be tall enough to reach the overhead compartments unassisted and should be able to lift anywhere between 20 and 50 pounds.
All flight attendants must be certified by the FAA. To achieve this, prospective candidates must be able to successfully complete examinations evaluating situations such as fire, medical emergency, emergency landing and evacuation as well as demonstrate knowledge of security measures set forth by the FAA and Transportation Security Administration or TSA. Flight attendants will need to be certified to the type of aircraft they will be servicing. Transfers from one aircraft to another will require approximately 1-2 days training to become acquainted and proficient. In addition, newly hired candidates will receive at least 8 weeks on the job training.
Most flight attendants will belong to a labor union associated with their respective airline carrier. Unions use collective bargaining leverage to negotiate pay rate, improvements in working environment and other benefits on behalf of individual employees.